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‘We need more customers’ - restaurant owner worried about future if people do not return

PUBLISHED: 17:13 06 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:49 07 July 2020

The Downham Tandoori restaurant reopened its doors for dine-in customers for the first time in months. Picture: Chris Biele

The Downham Tandoori restaurant reopened its doors for dine-in customers for the first time in months. Picture: Chris Biele

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A Norfolk restaurant owner has expressed his happiness at reopening for the first time in months but said his business needs more customers to survive.

The Downham Tandoori restaurant reopened its doors for dine-in customers for the first time in months. Picture: Downham TandooriThe Downham Tandoori restaurant reopened its doors for dine-in customers for the first time in months. Picture: Downham Tandoori

Ali Anwar, who runs Downham Tandoori and King’s Lynn Tandoori, reopened his doors for dining on Saturday, July 4 after halving restaurant capacity and implementing safety measures in order to comply with Covid-19 regulations.

The Indian restaurant owner said people are still nervous about returning after seeing a lack of custom over the weekend.

Mr Anwar said: “It feels harder and it’s not going to be how it used to be.

“Saturday was a good night, I enjoyed work but there wasn’t that many people.

The Downham Tandoori restaurant reopened its doors for dine-in customers for the first time in months. Pictured: Ali Anwar (left) and MP Lizz Truss (right). Picture: Downham TandooriThe Downham Tandoori restaurant reopened its doors for dine-in customers for the first time in months. Pictured: Ali Anwar (left) and MP Lizz Truss (right). Picture: Downham Tandoori

“People are still not feeling confident to come out, I’m surprised because I thought it would be very busy after opening up again after so many months.

“I’m a little bit worried but we have to understand that the next few months are going to be a struggle.

“If customers don’t come back, I don’t know what to do.”

Mr Anwar said pre-Covid the Downham Market restaurant would see hundreds of customers every weekend but only around 30 people dined out on Saturday, including South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss.

The Downham Tandoori restaurant has put in place social distancing measures including screens, one way systems and hand sanitiser stations. Picture: Downham TandooriThe Downham Tandoori restaurant has put in place social distancing measures including screens, one way systems and hand sanitiser stations. Picture: Downham Tandoori

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He added the tandoori’s takeaway service has been very busy, with around 150 orders being taken every week.

He said: “There was a beautiful atmosphere but we need more customers to be able to survive.

“I would love to see people coming in and enjoying themselves and hear laughter.”

The Downham Tandoori restaurant has put in place social distancing measures including screens, one way systems and hand sanitiser stations.  Picture: Downham TandooriThe Downham Tandoori restaurant has put in place social distancing measures including screens, one way systems and hand sanitiser stations. Picture: Downham Tandoori

Mr Anwar hopes people will be encouraged to return to his and other establishments in the town and support local businesses.

This sentiment is shared by Ms Truss, who marked the day of reopenings on July, 4 by visiting businesses in her constituency.

She said: “I appreciate that every business has had to adapt to a new way of operating, particularly the hospitality industry.

“This was something I discussed with Anwar and his team.

The Downham Tandoori restaurant has put in place social distancing measures including screens, one way systems and hand sanitiser stations.  Picture: Downham TandooriThe Downham Tandoori restaurant has put in place social distancing measures including screens, one way systems and hand sanitiser stations. Picture: Downham Tandoori

“During shutdown, as well as providing takeaways, they have also been preparing hundreds of appreciation meals for staff in local hospital and surgeries.

“This tremendous spirit has been replicated across the country and I know that without the incredible efforts of so many individuals, the Covid lockdown would have been even harder for many people.

“Hopefully as more and more facilities, shops and attractions reopen, we can all adapt and support our local businesses and shop and eat with confidence.”

Mr Anwar and his staff plan to donate more meals to NHS staff in the coming weeks.


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